Last summer, when I began to speak out about things I disagreed with in a Christian community that I am part of, I didn’t understand the pushback I got. To me, the issues were worthy of discussion and many more should have been speaking out.
I did not realize at the time that mere discussion, never mind questioning leadership decisions in some organizations was simply not allowed. I naively assumed that in a Christian community we can talk through these things.
But what I really, really did not understand was the virulence with which others responded to me. Those who sent me friend requests on Facebook only so they could send me messages berating me, or those people I already knew in real life who asked me written questions, then took screen shots and used my honest answers against me. Again, I was naive. I could not imagine that anyone would do that to me. Never imagined someone would start a conversation with me solely to “entrap” me.
Naive, naive, naive. That part’s on me I guess.
I have pondered this for months though. Why was the backlash so fierce? Why the virulence?
Friday, thanks to a tweet from an online friend, I figured it out. I have followed Amy Fritz on Twitter for quite awhile and I really enjoy her podcast, Untangled Faith. Last Friday when I happened to randomly read a thread of hers, something clicked inside me. I mean I practically heard the click. The realization was extremely profound for me. Here are her three tweets that affected me; you need to read them all to understand.
“Loyalty isn’t a fruit of the Spirit.” Amy is right. But in the Christian community, we sure do treat it like one. My cardinal sin wasn’t necessarily speaking out, or questioning this great Christian group I am affiliated with. It was being disloyal. Because speaking out and questioning at all is seen as disloyal. And when people felt their beloved community was threatened by a dissenting voice, their defense mechanisms fired up fast and furious-like.
I broke the rules. I let people see a crack in the full armor, apparently. Which is truly scandalous, because, if people know the truth, it might “hurt our witness,” right? And how will people EVER get saved if they know that Christians and Christian orgs are flawed and make mistakes?? How will people come to know Jesus if they see us DISAGREEING? The horror.
Just like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s George Washington, I don’t think Jesus Christ is a maiden in need of defending. There is nothing I can do to hurt Him. My questions and opinions certainly did Him no harm. And, I would argue, Christians who voice their differences and attempt to work them out in love do a lot more to further the kingdom than those who just gang up and gag up on the dissenters.
For now, I am still wearing my scarlet letter “D” for disloyal, (I hope and pray it won’t always be this way) but at least I finally understand why what I did was so “wrong.” And on the road to healing, I gotta say—that does help a bit.